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Potteries Orienteering Club

West Midlands Orienteering Association

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First published in The Potter October 2015
Text © Copyright Austin Farr 2015

Chronology of the Potteries Orienteering Club – 1975 to 2015

I have compiled this chronology from various documents, in particular, Dave Gosling's 1976 article in The Orienteer national magazine and many editions of our own The Potter newsletter/magazine, supplemented with inputs from Dave Gosling, Tony Smith, Neville Mitchison, John Heaton, Ken Durose and others. In the earlier part, I have included more detail, especially of the enthusiastic people that founded and nurtured the Club, as I feel this will be of most interest. (This took place when orienteering nationally was expanding rapidly and was the envy of other outdoor organisations like athletics and fell-running.) For the later years I have confined myself to developments that I feel were significant steps forward, and to some of our most notable achievements.

Austin Farr

When we were young: the first 10 years

1975-10-08 POTOC born at inaugural meeting

Founder members included: Dave (Chairman) & Diane Gosling, Jim Rand (shortly after left for a job in Glasgow), Roger (Treasurer) & Marie Smith, Mike (Secretary) & Tony (Vice Chair) Smith. Agreed Club name and badge (designed by DG’s brother, Alan, and unchanged since).

Generous help from WCH (Peter Palmer, in particular) – especially donation of areas: Downs Banks, Swynnerton, Trentham Park, also Maer Hills (but difficulties with permissions prevented use).

Grant of £170 from Stoke Council’s Quality of Life project.

Earlier in 1975, to stimulate interest in the Potteries area for a new club, WCH had organised low-key events: at Downs Banks (mapped by Tony Smith) on 4th May and at Trentham Park on 5th October.

Early membership included people from WCH, Keele University and ICL Kidsgrove.

1975-12-21 First event

Trentham Park on a 3-colour map by Marie Smith using black, brown and blue, with vegetation indicated by a dot screen.

First map of Trentham Park

1976-??-?? The Potter magazine, Club League

Tony Smith started publishing The Potter magazine and compiled the Club League from recent events to encourage competition.

1976-??-?? Downs Banks Permanent Course

Set up by Mike & Tony Smith.

1976-??-?? Early Junior Members

Ken Durose (owner of mascot Quasimodo, the cosmic crow), Rob Fleming & Andy Collett joined as independent junior members – all inspired by their teacher, Ron McDougal at Cheadle Grammar School, taking a minibus out almost weekly in the season.

1977-11-?? Organising an Orienteering Event

Written by Roger Smith: the ‘bible’ for POTOC event organisers.

1978-??-?? The Potter, new editor – Keith Lander

1978-12-13 Christmas Social

At The Bleeding Wolf, Scholar Green: annual social gathering (now held in New Year).

1979-04-29 National Relay Champs staged

Swynnerton Old Park. Organiser: Roger Smith, assisted by John Nuttall; Mapper: Tony Smith; Planner: Eric Johnson.

1979-09-16 Win Sandstone Trail Race

1st Team home in 16·5 m race: John Godding, Mike Stacey, Dave Gosling. (POTOC won the team prize in at least two subsequent years).

1979-09-?? Club Tee Shirts

Arranged by Marie Smith.

1979-??-?? Club Training Sessions

Coordinated by Cath Simpson.

1979-11-?? First PG Plot

Professional photogrammetric plot of Weston Heath to be obtained by Neville Mitchison as basis for new map.

1980-06-08 First Badge Event – at Swynnerton.

Organiser: John Nuttall, Planners: Roger & Marie Smith.

1980-10-02 Club Evenings

Monthly Training & Social evenings started at Kidsgrove Scout Hut, coordinated by Austin Farr.

1981-04-19 JK Relays

Jointly with WRE in Bishops Wood.

Organiser: John Nuttall.

1981-07-17 Training Weekend

Lake District, arranged by Richard Johnson.

1981-09-18 Barn Dance

Organiser: Barbara & John Godding at Mow Cop village hall. Raised £100 for POTOC funds. B & J organised another Barn Dance on 1983-03-04.

1981-??-?? Wooden Spoon

Earliest mention of this coveted trophy in March 1982 The Potter, awarded to the senior member with least league points from 7 best events – Malcolm Duncan for 1981 league. Changed at Oct 1982 Committee Meeting to current format: vote for members nominated for the silliest action.

1982-03-?? 62 membership units

1982-04-18 Weston Heath Badge Event

Used Neville Mitchison’s excellent map based on PG plot by Terrestrial Surveys. Organiser: Bob Dredge; Mapper/Planner: Neville Mitchison.

1983-09-11 Staffs Way Relay Race

Organiser: Tony Jenkins. POTOC v WRE – we won! First of a series of annual inter-club relays, later organised by other clubs. The forerunner, was an intra-POTOC relay race for 3 teams in 1981, over the northern parts of the Staffs Way (before the southern part was established).

1983-11-06 Roaches Badge Event

Organiser: Neville Mitchison, Planners: Austin & Barbara Farr. Map, based on professional PG plot, surveyed by many members, scribed by Austin. Out-of-bounds areas constrained planning, and proliferated in subsequent years until POTOC eventually abandoned the area.

1984-12-06 Ben II Finish Timer

£200 grant from Newcastle Sports Council enabled POTOC to buy this (£700!) printing finish timer – last used 2014-03-20 at Staffs Schools Champs in Hanley Forest Park.

1985-09-28 10th Anniversary – Score Event & Barbecue at Park Hall

Later years, selected developments and highlights

1986-04-29 Permanent Orienteering Courses at Hanley Park & Bathpool

Hanley Park POC opened by Sam Plank of Radio Stoke.

1986-05-17 Bathpool POC completed, with help from Newcastle-U-L Countryside Project.

More POCs installed later in Country Parks at: Biddulph Grange, Apedale, Ladderedge, Brough Park.

1989-10-14 Win CompassSport Small Clubs Trophy

At EPOC’s Castle Carr. Team Captain: Barbara Farr. Resounding victory with fastest times for small clubs in all classes – and fastest overall in BROWN (hardest) by Dave Troman.

1993-02-14 National Event & Computer-drawn Map – Weston Heath

Mapper: Neville Mitchison, Organiser: John Heaton, Planner: Austin & Barbara Farr. Entries exceeded 1900, including colour-coded entry-on-day.

Neville was probably the first amateur to draw a map by computer – using Adobe Illustrator on his MAC PC and a photogrammetric plot by Terrestrial Surveys.

1993-04-27 3 British Champions at Brown Clee

Fiona Coventry W45; Paul Graetz M45; Graham Piggot M11.

1994-05-23 OCAD 5 mapping software

488 Swiss Francs from Hans Steinegger Software. First used by: Austin Farr (Bathpool); Nathan Townshend (Leycett); John Heaton (Hanley Forest Park).

1998-04-?? £6305 Lottery Grant for Professional Mapping

Nathan Townsend applied for the grant in 1997, used to map areas, mainly small ones, from 1998 to end of 2005.

1999-03-?? Website

At the 1998 AGM, Dave Sparks offered to set up the website, and it became available in March 1999.

2006-09-?? SI Electronic Punching Kit

John Pigott obtained a £3476 National Lottery (Awards for All) grant for this kit and trained a team in its use. Capabilities were extended later to automate computerised results.

2008-01-?? Waterproof Maps

Bought a laser printer and waterproof ‘paper’ to print our own maps – managed by John Heaton.

2008-06-08 Clubmark accreditation awarded

Government scheme that confirms that POTOC provides an environment suitable for children.

2009-01-09 Annual Barn Dance & Presentations

Meerbrook Village Hall, organised by John Pigott. Held every year since and occasionally rescheduled due to snow.

2009-??-?? School League

based on selected local events. Evolved later into Summer Park League for adults & children (first event 2012-05-17 at Tunstall Park), and by 2014 used any POTOC areas.

2009-09-?? Generator – to power computer and printer

2010-01-25 Urban Event

Stone Town organised by Henry Morgan.

2010-??-?? Grant from British Orienteering for professional maps of 5 local parks

Florence & Longton Parks was first to be used, on 2011-01-08.

2011-03-31 North Staffs Schools Championships

Re-started by Brenda & Henry Morgan in Hanley Forest Park. In 2014, became Staffs Schools Championships.

2014-09-06 British Sprint Championships

Keele University Campus. Organiser: Brenda Morgan, Planner: Henry Morgan.

2015-04-01 WEB-based Open Orienteering Maps

John Heaton used these for urban training events: the first at Meir Park.

2015-10-04 40th Anniversary Event – held at Whitfield Valley

West Midlands Championship. Organiser: John Piggot & Jean Rostron; Planner: Jim Cooke.